My heart has been broken this last week watching the news. From shootings to ICE raids, where innocent people, mostly people of color, have been targeted, children have been left without parents, and lives have been destroyed or traumatized. As a response, many of those in power point fingers of blame to others, including parents seeking a good life for their children, or laws that they, themselves, have weakened, leaving compassion and empathy seeming far, far away.
Questions, along with images and sounds of children crying or begging, have been haunting me. Questions have ranged from a helpless, “What can I do,” when the need is so, so great, to “How can ‘those’ people not care, not do something, allow this to happen.” And I find neither of these too productive, as both feel like cries from the depths of grief, and I would rather turn away from the news than feel this, but know that we have to stay aware. We have to feel. We cannot look away.
So what CAN I do? And, maybe, what can you do?
Last week I helped with Vacation Bible School at church. Toddlers through fifth graders came together to create, learn, play, worship and eat. Older youth were there as volunteers alongside the many adults around. Skin tones varied in color, accents were different from one another, learning abilities varied, and taste in food was individual. Yet this community of infants through grandmas (and probably great-grandparents), gathered in harmony to bring kindness and love and compassion to our little part of Minnesota. During the week I got to witness a quiet, shy girl from Puerto Rico grow more confident and come out of her shell as she felt this welcome and love into our community. So much so that on the last night when the kids were asked if they would read something for the closing worship in front of parents, she was the first to volunteer!
Last week an older woman where I worked got tangled up with her walker and fell. She was in pain, laying on the cold floor. So I sat with her, praying and rubbing her back gently, checking to see if she needed a blanket or a hand to squeeze as we waited first, for the nurse, then the security guard and finally an ambulance to arrive. And all the while she was thanking each person who came, and feeling bad she was being an inconvenience, lying there with her broken pelvis.
And last week I prayed, (or, more accurately) pleaded, with God to show me how I could help in practical ways. “Send me to El Paso or Mississippi,” I said. “Make a way for me to go to the border and make a difference,” I asked. “Find ways for me to change laws,” I reluctantly suggested, for politics is not my strong suit. But all I heard from God was, “Keep doing good, sowing love, showing kindness, being open and vulnerable, right where you are.” “It’s not enough,” I cried. “It’s all there is,” God replied.
This conversation threw me right back in to the words from the Talmud: "Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
So, wherever you are, I invite you to stay open, broken wide so it sometimes feels raw as you bear witness to the injustice in the world. To pray and listen to how God is calling you to respond. To be thankful, to shower grace and kindness into the world, to watch and learn from the children, to look for beauty, and to respond with the most love you can summon, in big ways and small. For, I believe, these will ripple out into the world, changing it love drop by love drop.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.